Last weekend I was intending to enter the 8 Hour Working Week mountain bike race at Sparrow Hill (just outside Queanbyan on the Kings Highway), as preparation for The Scott 24 Hour. After checking the details for the 8 hour race I found that we would have to pay $70 (for a team of two) for the privelege of trashing ourselves around a forest which I had ridden and raced for free the previous two weekends. So after talking with my would-be team mate we decided we could put together a ride through the Brindabellas which would give us a good 4 hours on the bike. After picking up a couple of maps, and talking to some people who were a bit more familiar with the area, we plotted a course for Two Sticks Road. The plan would see us ride from Brindabella Road, up to Piccadilly Circus, onto Two Sticks Road which follows the ridge line behind Mt Coree, a short steep detour to the top of Mt Coree, then back to Two Sticks Road to ride all the way to the end, onto Mountain Creek road, then down to Uriarra Road, which would lead us to Brindabella Road and the finish of our loop.
Early Sunday morning we met up on Brindabella Road, just past Blue Range Road (we could have started from the Cotter, but we’re not that masochistic). The grass was quite frosty but if the day before was anything to go by, we were in for another great Canberra winter day (don’t tell the Sydneyites that we get warm days in winter). We rolled away from the cars, along Brindabella Road towards Piccadilly Circus, the near zero degree air nipping at my legs and the holes in my gloves. I was almost wishing for the climbing to start so I could warm up a bit, as we made the initial brief downhill roll, then we started to steadily climb. After riding up Brindabella Road for about twenty minutes we finally hit dirt as the bitumen petered out. Following an hour of steady climbing up Brindabella Road, which has to be one of the smoothest dirt roads in Australia, we arrived at Piccadilly Circus, and I had warmed up.
We topped up the blood sugar levels with a quick snack, then took the hard right into the start of Two Sticks Road. The road was not quite as smooth as Brindabella road, but to my delight it was undulating downhill. The bush along this section appeared to have been burnt so badly in the fires that many of the large eucalypts had not regrown, instead there were towering burnt matchsticks with bush green undergrowth. After 30 minutes of jumping over water bars, crashing through frozen puddles, and a couple of short climbs we arrived at the turn off to Mt Coree. I could see a rocky peak high above though the trees, I hoped that it was not the summit of Mt Coree, however my hopes were to be dashed. It was a steep and rough climb to the very top of Mt Coree. Once we arrived at the top I was glad we had made the half hour struggle. The sky was clear, and the view was awesome, we could see all of Canberra below in the distance.
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After we had finished sucking in the view, our lungs, and some more snacks, we jumped back on the bikes. The descent was a brake burner, after reaching Two Sticks road again, I needed to fix my brakes as the front pads had worn to the point where I was getting nothing. We continued along as Two Sticks road slowly climbed and descended though dense forests of towering eucalypts, interspersed with the occasional gaps where all bush had been cleared to run high voltage power lines.
Finally we reached the fun part where Two Sticks road slowly descends as it hugs the winding contours of the ridge line. We hammered down the descent, at speeds which have been known to reduce the lifespan of cross country bikes. There was two wheel drifting through corners – sometimes a little too close to the edge, and grins from ear to ear each time we stopped to regroup.
Then all of a sudden from the lush native bushland, we popped out into semidried farmland complete with sheep grazing in the paddocks. We dropped down on Two Sticks Road to Mountain Creek Road, where the last kilometers of dirt sped under our tyres. For the final leg, we turned on the smooth bitumen of Uriarra Road, and then Brindabella road. As we chewed up the final Ks roadie style, boy racers on their motorbikes sped past at unnerving speeds (who says Canberra needs a dragway/racetrack?).
Just as my legs were about to give out we rolled up to the cars. We sat back in the warm winter sun for a cool drink before packing up the bikes and driving home. Stats for the day’s ride – Distance: 64 Km; Riding time: 4 hours; Total Climbing/Descending : 1600 meters; Top Speed: 59 Kph. Right now I’m thinking about doing it all again this weekend…